- Ashy Akakpo
I Am a Heretic
Someone close to me once told me, they were born an Adventist, but only became a Christian at 21. In that moment I thought, “Wow, what a statement,” not truly understanding the depth of those words. I figured; I too could relate but the reality was – I could not. It was only at the age of 23 I finally became a Christian myself. Sounds silly? Let me explain.
Recently, I’ve been realising how twisted my perspective of the Father and the gospel had been. Since last year, I had been playing this role, holding on tightly to this disciple-esque façade because I wanted to prove a point. To prove who a point? The people who had ambushed and harassed me last year, I wanted to show them that I was better than them and so without realising, I adopted a lot of their beliefs and began moulding it unto my own. In a well – toxic way.
I hurt a lot of people doing so, thinking what I was doing and saying was right. I was driven by the epiphany that I had now obtained perfection. I mean I was knowledgeable and so needed no teaching, I was righteous and so needed no rebuke. If anyone was to be rebuked, it was anyone who weren’t truly portraying the façade I was hoping to portray. The role I was devoted to play. The perfect Adventist.
Consequently, it only made me feel isolated and miserable. I shunned any mention of “God’s Love” because all I wanted to hear was Daniel, Revelation and God’s law – the ten Commandments. That was the gospel, and that was what was needed to be preached. I held unto this idea that the whole gospel needed to be preached yet condemned anyone who had the cheek to talk about discipleship, love or even grace.
My reasoning here – very twisted.
It was only until this year, that I found out about two things that completely blew my mind. Righteousness by faith and God’s character.
Check this out. I’m not saved by the things I do – I am saved by grace through faith. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t insufficient, His death was whole and complete. And it truly was by His sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice that I am saved. (Not saying once saved, always saved though – that’s not biblical buttt that’s a whole blog post for another day).
But not only that, something that made my brain go boom-boom, was the mere realisation that, God loves me more than His own eternal existence. What? How could that possibly be true? But that’s the gospel in a wrap. The gospel declares who the Father is and how the Father feels about you. The character of the Father was made fully manifest in the person of Christ and it was through Christ we gain a better understanding of the Father.
Righteousness by faith, God’s character. Wow. Two things that changed well – everything.
Then a couple weeks later I learnt about seeking God – whole heartedly. Something I already knew but didn’t truly understand. I had conditioned myself with the idea that to seek God wholeheartedly was to show obedience to gain reward. That reward being eternal life. But what about love?
I came to a point where I sat down and thought out loud, “Do I follow Christ and obey Him out of love or obligation?” Because see, I had now recognised that most of the things I was doing was for hope of reward or fear of punishment. The wholehearted aspect was nowhere to be seen. Sure, I had passion, sure I did love Him but not in a true way, more like an obligated one.
The driving force for my actions was hate, bitterness and obligation, which only allowed the poison of legalism to creep in. Sure, I am a head strong individual, not afraid to call out unbiblical doctrines and ideologies, but was I doing it in a way full of love or bitterness? I had to understand that God is not about our performance. The gospel is not what we can do for Christ, but rather Christ’s finished work on the cross.
If I truly loved Christ and was only driven by the love I had for Him, I won’t have to think about if I’m doing it right or not. I won’t have to wonder if I’m making enough disciples or not, or if I’m obeying Him enough – all I’ll know, is that I love Him.
Obedience is just a by-product of that love for Him.
John 14:15 has been terribly misunderstood for Jesus encouraging legalism, but in reality He was encouraging love. Christ denounces legalism throughout scripture, His goal was for us to understand the Father, what can be found in Him and how we can be found by Him. Not what can be found in us. By abiding in Him, He then abides in us according to John 15:4.
Christ encourages us to run in Him and find safety, run in Him and find rest, run in Him and find salvation. Not to run around Him, or to run beside Him. He asks us to run in Him.
The moral of the story is – if Ashy Akakpo from March 2022 could see me now, she’d call me a heretic and so to her I say, yes. I am a heretic, tie me to some wood and set me alight. But I’d rather be a heretic, striving to remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, following & obeying the Father out of love and allowing humility to flow freely rather than being a legalistic, policing, not willing to be taught, judgemental pharisee.
It is so important as believers, disciples even, to strive to follow Christ with the driving force being love. It is only then, true obedience will be produced and even when we fall short on some aspects, because we will – we won’t guilt trip ourselves. We’ll just get up, brush ourselves off and keep on moving forward. Why? Because we would have knowledge of who the Father truly is, and we will understand that it is only in Christ that righteousness and salvation is obtained.
Stay blessed family,